crushing

“When someone like me, who will go to superhero lengths to avoid the truth, runs out of options-when I am found out or too exhausted to pretend anymore or maybe just confronted by my sister-it feels like the truth might crush me.  And that is right.  The truth does crush us, but the instant it crushes us, it somehow puts us back together into something honest.  It’s death and resurrection every time it happens.

This, to me, is the point of the confession and absolution in the liturgy.  When I first experience it-the part where everyone in church stands up and says what bad people they are, and the pastor, from the distance of the chancel and the purity of her white robe says, “God forgives you”-I thought it was hogwash.  Why should I care if someone says to me that some God I may or may not really believe in has erased the check marks against me for things I may or may not even think are so-called sins?  This obviously is the problem with religion for many: It makes you feel bad enough that you will need the religion to help you feel good again.

But eventually the confession and absolution liturgy came to mean everything to me.  It gradually began to feel like a moment when truth was spoken, perhaps for the only time all week, and it would crush me and then put me back together.

And the pastor said, “Fear not, brothers and sisters, God, who is full of grace and abounding in steadfast love, meets us in our sin and transforms us for God’s glory and the healing of God’s world.  In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, your sins are forgiven, be now at peace.”  Exhale.

-Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix

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identity

“[After Christ is baptized] The Word that had most recently come from the mouth of God was, “This is my beloved in whom I am well pleased.”  Identity.  It’s always God’s first move  Before we do anything wrong and before we do anything right, God has named and claimed us as God’s own.  But almost immediately, other things try to tell us who we are and to whom we belong; capitalism, the weight-loss industrial complex, our parents, kids at school-they all have a go at telling us who we are.  But only God can do that.  Everything else is temptation.  Maybe demons are defined as anything other than God that tried to tell us who we are.  And maybe, just moments after Jesus’ baptism, when the devil says to him, “If you are the Son of God…” he does so because he knows that Jesus is vulnerable to temptation precisely to the degree that he is insecure about his identity and mistrusts his relationship with God.

So if God’s first move is to give us our identity, then the deveils’ first move is to throw that identity into question.  Identity is like the tip of a spool of thread, which when pulled, can unwind the whole thing.”

-Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix

he presents our souls to God…

Let us love and sing and wonder,
Let us praise the Savior’s Name!
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder,
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame.
He has washed us with His blood,
He has brought us nigh to God.

Let us love the Lord Who bought us,
Pitied us when enemies,
Called us by His grace, and taught us,
Gave us ears and gave us eyes:
He has washed us with His blood,
He presents our souls to God.

Let us sing, though fierce temptation
Threaten hard to bear us down!
For the Lord, our strong Salvation,
Holds in view the conqueror’s crown:
He Who washed us with His blood
Soon will bring us home to God.

Let us wonder; grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store;
When through grace in Christ our trust is,
Justice smiles and asks no more:
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God.

Let us praise, and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high;
Here they trusted Him before us,
Now their praises fill the sky:
“Thou hast washed us with Your blood;
Thou art worthy, Lamb of God!”

-John Newton, Hymn: (listen here) Let us love and sing and wonder